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News for 29 July 2015

All the news for Wednesday 29 July 2015

England set to compete at Ergo Hamburg Masters

Lewers and Middleton celebrate

Bobby Crutchley’s England side continue their preparations for the Unibet EuroHockey Championships by competing in the Ergo Hamburg Masters in Germany.

The competition is a round-robin format and will include matches with Belgium, Spain and Germany. England start by facing Belgium on Thursday 30 July, followed by Germany on Saturday 1 August, before rounding off their games against Spain on Sunday 2 August.

With selection still to be made for the Unibet EuroHockey Championships, Crutchley makes four changes to the squad who secured Olympic qualification at the World League in Antwerp. Wimbledon’s Phil Roper and Reading’s Dan Shingles come in after injury lay-offs whilst Ian Sloan, also of Wimbledon, is in line to make his England debut at the tournament. The other player to come in is Beeston’s Ollie Willars who is set to add to his 54 England caps.
The players not travelling who competed at the World League are Beeston duo Adam Dixon and Tim Whiteman, David Condon and Henry Weir.

David Ames, who played at the Olympic Qualifiers for Great Britain is also set to make his England debut.

The squad in full can be found below:

Name Club
David Ames Beeston
James Bailey (GK) Wimbledon
Alastair Brogdon Wimbledon
Nick Catlin Holcombe
Dan Fox Holcombe
Mark Gleghorne Beeston
Chris Griffiths East Grinstead
Michael Hoare Wimbledon
Ashley Jackson Holcombe
Iain Lewers Holcombe
Harry Martin Beeston
Barry Middleton (C) Holcombe
George Pinner (GK) Holcombe
Phil Roper Wimbledon
Dan Shingles Reading
Ian Sloan Wimbledon
Sam Ward Holcombe
Ollie Willars Beeston

Full schedule information can be found here.

England Hockey Board Media release

Capping off a great few months

Ireland's Nikki Evans was one of several athletes to reach a cap milestone recently

Every international match is special, but some are more special than others

Pulling on his or her shirt for international duty is a special moment for any athlete.

“I cry every time the national anthem plays,” admitted Katelyn Falgowski as she celebrated earning 200 caps for the USA at the recent Hockey World League Semi-Finals. “But when you have played for your country for a significant amount of times – 100, 200, even 300 caps – then you feel something even stronger.”

The season of Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Finals, which took place in in Buenos Aires, Valencia and Antwerp, produced several milestone celebrations.

For Juan Lopez of Argentina, 200 caps was the pinnacle of a 2-1 win against Japan in the quarter-finals that took his team one step closer to a place at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

“I’m very happy,” he said, “This is a special moment, especially in my country and with my friends. We also won the quarter-final which means that we are very close to the Olympics now. The crowd is incredible.”

At the same tournament, Xavi Lleonart of Spain said winning his 100th cap had “been a special moment,” but losing to Canada had put the spoiler on his day.

A trio of players from Ireland celebrated milestone caps at the women’s Semi-Final event in Valencia.

Shirley McCay, Aine Connery and Nikki Evans were part of the squad that began the competition well.

Speaking after her team’s 2-0 win over USA, Nikki Evans, who had played well in the game, was forthright in her assessment. “Not a bad day,” she said as she picked up her 100th cap.

Aine Connery earned her 100th cap in the pool game against South Africa. “It’s a little ironic because I got my first cap against South Africa, too. To get there with a 4-1 win - I’m delighted.”

While Connery and Evans were able to celebrate their caps with victories, for McCay it was a bitter-sweet moment.

The team lost 3-1 to Germany, but as McCay said: “They are European champions for a reason, and we certainly gave them a game out there. 200 caps is obviously a result of a few years hard work and I am really proud of the achievement. I couldn’t wish to do it with a better bunch of girls.”

Being recognised in front of a home crowd always adds something to the occasion and Spanish captain Rocio Ybarra was delighted when she was presented with her 200th cap.

She said: “Today was the best feeling! My twin sister was there in the crowd; it was lovely having all the people cheering for us.”

The moment was made sweeter as Spain beat higher-ranked rivals China 1-0 in a tight encounter.

In Antwerp both the men’s and women’s competition saw a number of players celebrating their cap milestones.

Barry Middleton reached 350 combined England and Great Britain caps.

Speaking after his team’s win over India, Middleton said: “It’s been a good week. Obviously it is nice to get 350 caps, but this was all about qualifying for the Olympics. Once we had done that, we had the chance to show how good a team we are. We wanted to finish the tournament off properly today and I think we did that.”

Netherlands women were unbeaten in their campaign to qualify for Rio 2016 at the HWL Semi-Final in Antwerp.

Reaching 200 caps was an extra achievement for captain Maartje Paumen. She said: “For me it was a really special day, of course. Before the game I received a lot of messages saying well done on reaching 200 and I also spent some time thinking about what we have achieved during the last 11 years. It really was a special moment for me.”

Second placed women’s team in Antwerp was the ever-improving Korea. Kim Jongeun celebrated reaching 200 caps.

Speaking after their 2-1 loss to Netherlands, Kim said: “It is a really good feeling to have played so many games. I’m sad about the result, but life as a hockey player is perfect.”

Players celebrating milestone caps:


    John-John Dohmen (300) Belgium
    Pedro Ibarra (200) Argentina
    Juan Lopez (200) Argentina
    Fergus Kavanagh (200) Australia
    Felix Denayer (200) Belgium
    Gurbat Singh (200) India
    Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (200) Malaysia
    Jeremy Gucassoff (100) Belgium
    Gauthier Boccard (100) Belgium
    Iain Smythe (100) Canada
    Peter Caruth (100) Ireland
    Valentin Verga (100) Netherlands
    Xavi Lleonart (100) Spain


    Shirley McCay (200) Ireland
    Myumi Ono (200) Japan
    Kim Jongeun (200) Korea
    Maartje Paumen (200) Netherlands
    Rocio Ybarra (200) Spain
    Katelyn Falgowski (200) USA
    Florencia Habif (100) Argentina
    Aisling D’Hooghe (100) Belgium:
    Emilie Sinia (200) Belgium
    Sushila Pukhrambam (100) India
    Nikki Evans (100) Ireland
    Aine Connery (100) Ireland
    Megan Frazer (100) Ireland

FIH site

Round 1 fixture schedule confirmed

Following the recent draw for Round 1 of the Euro Hockey League, the fixture schedule for Hamburg has been finalised for what promises to be a festival of hockey on October 9 to 11.

Twelve teams will battle it out in four groups of three for the four tickets to the KO16 which will take place at Easter 2016 in will be another instalment of the world's premier club competition.

Here is the schedule in full:

Friday 9 October

10.15h, Pool C: Dinamo Elektrostal (RUS) vs SG Amsicora ASD (ITA)
12.30h, Pool D: Monkstown HC (IRL) vs East Grinstead HC (ENG)
14.45h, Pool A: Saint Germain HC (FRA) vs KS Pomorzanin Torun (POL)
17.00h, Pool B: Harvestehuder THC (GER) vs Grange HC (SCO)

Saturday 10 October

10.15h, Pool C: Royal Leopold (BEL) vs SG Amsicora ASD (ITA)
12.30h, Pool D: Club Egara (ESP) vs East Grinstead HC (ENG)
14.45h, Pool A: AH&BC Amsterdam (NED) vs KS Pomorzanin Torun (POL)
17.00h, Pool B: HC Wien (AUT) vs Grange HC (SCO)

Sunday 11 October

09.30h, Pool C: Royal Leopold (BEL) vs Dinamo Elektrostal (RUS)
11.45h, Pool D: Club Egara (ESP) vs Monkstown HC (IRL)
14.00h, Pool B: Harvestehuder THC (GER) vs HC Wien HC (AUT)
16.15h, Pool A: AH&BC Amsterdam (NED) vs Saint Germain (FRA)

The 12 teams that have received a Bye into KO16 are: MHC Oranje Zwart (NED), SV Kampong (NED), KTHC Rot-Weiss Koln (GER), UHC Hamburg (GER), KHC Dragons (BEL), KHC Leuven (BEL), Real Club de Polo (ESP),Atletic Terrassa HC (ESP), Wimbledon (ENG), WKS Grunwald Poznan (POL), Racing Club de France (FRA), Dinamo Kazan (RUS)

Note: Match times and schedule subject to change due to the requirements of television or other factors as determined by EHL.

Euro Hockey League media release

It's not really a new beginning: Hockey captain Sardar Singh on Oltmans appointment

File picture of Roelant Oltmans (L) and Sardar Singh. AFP

From the highs of Olympic qualification and the well-received #DeshKeLiye campaign, to the lows of crushing losses to top teams in the Hockey World League semifinals in Belgium and coach Paul van Ass' ugly ouster — it has been a roller-coaster few months for the Indian Hockey Team.

The recently-sacked chief coach's spat with the Hockey India chief is well-documented. So is the fact that the Indian team has had to compete under five different coaches in Narinder Batra's regime so far. Like Ashish Magotra from Firstpost had commented, the Indian team could/should have begun preparing in earnest for Rio 2016 -- set everything else aside, put on the blinkers and focus on the Olympics... and the Olympics alone.

Indian captain, Sardar Singh, however, is defiant that the side will still carry on unaffected by the saga. In an interview with The Indian Express, Sardar admitted it is frustrating at some level for the players to see coaches come and go, but in the current scenario having high performance director Roelant Oltmans as the new chief coach could be a 'blessing in disguise.'

"What has happened is between coach, Hockey India and SAI. The good thing is none of us let it affect us," said Sardar in the interview. "The best part about whatever has happened is that Roelant has been with the team for the last three years and knows the positives and negatives of every player. He has been there at almost every training session and tour of ours. So it’s not really a new beginning in that sense."

Responding to a question whether the players were left a bit clueless by van Ass' methodologies, Sardar said that it was partly because of the time it takes to adjust to a new coach's ideas. "Maybe that was because we really had a very short time with him. He could not share all his ideas with us as he got just three-four months. If he would have stayed longer, he would have been able to explain to us his strategies and reasons behind his decisions in a better way," he said.

As a fall-out of the HWL debacle, experienced defender Gurbaj Singh was singled out by the Hockey India committee for causing factions within the squad, something that Sardar denies vehemently.

"Absolutely not [there are no factions]. If Gurbaj said it, and I don’t know if he has, it must be for the good of the team. Look we say some things on the field but it stays there and it should be that way," said Sardar. "Those things are said in heat of the moment and we get over it immediately. So it is wrong to bring these issues up. The reason we performed so well last year was that as a unit, we were all together."

For his part, Gurbaj Singh has hit back at his detractors. In an interview with DNA after he was excluded from the squad for its upcoming 15-day European tour, Gurbaj dismissed the allegations.

"As far as my relationship with players is concerned, please go and ask how much we all love each other. All these talks of creating rift are completely baseless. Let the committee call me and give me a chance to explain my position on this entire cooked up issue. I want to confront any person who has levelled these allegations against me," said Gurbaj.

Gurbaj also said he was not aware of coach Van Ass being unhappy with him, after he was asked to change his position from right link to right half, despite initial apprehension from the player.

Click here to read Sardara's full interview with The Indian Express.


Indiscipline, penalty-corner conversions ail Indian hockey

India's players celebrate after scoring during during the Group A match between India and Poland at the Hockey World League semi-finals in Brasschaat, Antwerp, Belgium, on June 23, 2015. With a year to go for the Rio Olympics, the sacking of coach Paul van Ass has thrown India's preparations in disarray. (AFP Photo)

With only about a year to go for the Rio Olympics, Hockey India selector Harbinder Singh has raised concerns about the performance of the men’s team. "There are certain critical flaws that need to be addressed," the Olympian said.

India finished fourth at the recently concluded hockey world league semifinals, but Harbinder said the performance wasn’t satisfactory. "I am worried about the way the team played," he said.

According to Harbinder, topmost on the list of concerns is India’s inability to convert penalty-corners. "It’s not even moderate at the moment. If this area is overlooked, it would further reduce our average goals per match."

He gave the example of world champions Australia who scored a thumping 6-1 win over Netherlands in the final of the 2014 World Cup at The Hague. During the final, of the six Australian goals, three were via penalty-corners and that helped them comeback from a goal down to destroy the Dutch.

Defence, according to Harbinder, is another area of worry. "We should give less space to rivals. Not conceding easy goals can tilt the balance in crucial matches," he said.

The Olympian was also disappointed with the basic trapping skills of international players. "We can’t ignore basics. We still have a year to go and there is scope for improvement. Otherwise the team is unlikely to do well." Harbinder also observed that conceding an early goal generally upsets the body language of players.

The other factor is indiscipline. "Indiscipline will not be tolerated. This should be a message to all," Harbinder said referring to midfielder Gurbaz Singh being ‘rested’. "The Punjab player needs to focus," he added.

On the change of guard, he said Roelant Oltmans would continue to be chief coach of the men’s team as he understands the core group of players better than anyone else at the moment. Supporting Oltmans, he said, "He has been with the national team as its high performance director for some time. So it’s an advantage to have him at the top."

Ric backs Oltmans

PTI adds: Ric Charlesworth too feels all is not lost for the Indian team but called on the administrators to stop sacking coaches needlessly. "You are lucky I suppose that Roelant Oltmans is still there. He has been known to the players and has been around for a while. But yes too much chopping and changing can’t be good for the team," he said.

The Western Australian said: "You should leave the coaching up to the coaches. You put them in charge and you let them do it. There are good things happening in Indian hockey of late but then you hear of something like this (van Ass ouster)."

Hindustan Times

Stop sacking coaches needlessly: Charlesworth

The World Cup winning player and coach's comments come after another foreign coach, Paul van Ass, was sacked unceremoniously five months into his three-year contract

Ric Charlesworth   

Ric Charlesworth, one of the greatest hockey minds, feels all is not lost for the Indian team ahead of next year’s Rio Olympics but called on the administrators of the game in the country to stop sacking coaches needlessly.

Charlesworth’s comments come after another foreign coach, Paul van Ass, was sacked unceremoniously five months into his three-year contract following a spat between Hockey India chief Narinder Batra and the Dutchman during the World League Semifinals in Belgium.

“You are lucky I suppose that Roelant Oltmans (now the chief coach) is still there. He has been known to the players and has been around for a while (as High Performance Manager) but yes too much chopping and changing can’t be good for the team,” Charlesworth said today.

The Western Australian, who is both a World Cup winning player and coach, knows what it is like to coach in India, having coached in the Hockey India League, besides spending tough 10 months in 2008 as technical director of the national team.

“In the end, you should leave the coaching up to the coaches. You put them in-charge and you let them do it. There have been good things happening in Indian hockey of late but then you hear of something like this (Van Ass ouster) happening,” said Charlesworth, who resigned after coaching the Kookaburras to success at the 2014 Hockey World Cup in the Netherlands.

He fails to understand why Van Ass’ predecessors Jose Brasa and Terry Walsh were shown the door.

“Jose Brasa did a good job, he did not last. Then you had Michael Nobbs and Terry Walsh, who also did a very good job and team was making progress under him before another change took place. It is very difficult to build a team while all that is happening around you.”

Charlesworth, however, thinks players will not be affected much by the latest controversy to hit Indian hockey.

“The players can handle it; that is not a huge issue. It has not happened one month before the Olympics. The Olympics is still a year away. They have a better preparation chance than anyone else,” he said while referring to India’s Asian Games gold that secured their Olympic qualification two years before the Rio Games.

The Hindu

I want to confront anyone who has levelled baseless allegations against me: Gurbaj Singh

Chander Shekhar Luthra

Gurbaj SIngh (right) has been axed from the squad to tour Europe

dna had reported last week that the HI special committee, chaired by former Olympian Harbinder Singh, had found Gurbaj guilty of creating a "rift" within the team. Gurbaj was consequently omitted from the squad until he those problems were resolved.

A day after the Hockey India (HI) selection committee axed Gurbaj Singh from the squad for the Europe tour on charges of indiscipline, the senior midfielder has hit back, saying he wants to "confront any person who has levelled baseless allegations against me".

dna had reported last week that the HI special committee, chaired by former Olympian Harbinder Singh, had found Gurbaj guilty of creating a "rift" within the team. Gurbaj was consequently omitted from the squad until he those problems were resolved.

The entire issue, it seems, started when former coach Paul Van Ass took over in January. Gurbaj, who was playing as right half for a long period of time, was asked to shift his position to right wing forward by the Dutchman during the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia in April.

Gurbaj was initially resistant to the change, and he told Van Ass that it may be difficult to expect the same performance from him if his position was changed.

"I didn't know how this experiment would turn out to be," Gurbaj told dna on Tuesday. "I had been giving my 100 per cent as right half but as right wing forward, I wasn't too sure. Only when the chief coach asked me to give it a try, I fully agreed and changed my position in Azlan Shah.

"Even during the series against Japan, coach kept experimenting with my position. During the Hockey World League Semifinals in Antwerp, Van Ass came to me and praised me for accepting his challenge of playing at a different position. That's all I know," Gurbaj, who has been one of the top performers for the team, added.

The next thing Gurbaj knew was that he was branded as a trouble maker in the team, and was alleged of indiscipline with the coaching staff.

dna has learnt that Van Ass did not find any fault with Gurbaj in any of his reports till date. Moreover, there were no detailed charges against Gurbaj when the HI special committee met on Friday.

"Van Ass was not the only coach there. There were other members of the coaching staff including assistant coaches Jude Felix and Sandeep Sangwan who were with the team," Harbinder had told this paper after the meeting. "And you know what happened at the 2012 London Olympics," he added, referring to a similar charge made against Gurbaj by then coach Michael Nobbs.

Gurbaj, on his part, said: "Look, I don't know what prompted other coaches to say things about my commitment. I've never had any disciplinary issue. As far as my relationship with players is concerned, please go and ask how much we all love each other. All these talks of creating rift are completely baseless."

Gurbaj suggested that the committee seek the opinion of other Indian coaches like Harendra Singh, Cedric D'Souza and Joaquim Carvalho about his commitment to the team.

"Let the committee call me and give me a chance to explain my position on this entire cooked up issue. I want to confront any person who has levelled baseless allegations against me. That's the natural justice, which everyone is entitled to. About the charges that I created indiscipline even before the 2012 Olympics, I want to say that I was sidelined in the name of being injured. There were no such issues even at that time," Gurbaj said.

Gurbaj's outburst, however, could go against him in the longer run because HI president Narinder Batra is known to silence every voice raised against him or HI.


USA Field Hockey’s Technological Advantage At The Pan-Am Games

Team USA Celebrating Gold at the Pan American Games

The USA Field Hockey team is currently participating in the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.  Next week, when the competition has ended, they will be hoping to leave Canada with gold medals draped around their necks.

This year, the US team is using technology more so than in years past, in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage.  The director for performance science for USA Field Hockey, Dave Hamilton, provided us with information about how his team is using technology in this year’s competition.

The US Field Hockey team excels due to its rigorous training methods.  For five days a week, 47 weeks each year, the athletes train twice per day in order to develop their skills.  According to Hamilton, technology helps to, “describe and contextualize how our athletes respond to the prescribed training content. The information is then used to make smart decisions.”  Even though the training program for these athletes is rigorous, Hamilton and his team are able to make sure the athletes stay healthy and keep improving.

As technology has entered the mobile age, USA Field Hockey has adapted.  Hamilton describes the team’s training environment as, “a phone and tablet friendly gym where program content and training loads can be altered live on handsets.”  He gave a couple of examples of apps they use, RestWise and ILG, that help staff and athletes communicate.  This very technologically focused training environment not only helps the athletes train more efficiently, but it also familiarizes the players with this new tech, so they become more comfortable using it.

This year, the USA Field Hockey Team has introduced medically graded compression into their training and competition.  Hamilton lauded these compression socks and their ability to provide medical information.  “These compression socks,” he explains, “Are individually knitted using the measurements obtained from a 3 dimensional scan of both legs.”  Leg and ankle injuries can be very debilitating for field hockey players, so these socks help drastically reduce the risk of injury.  However, these socks are more advanced than just data sensors—according to Hamilton, “these medically graded compression stockings are complemented with an electrical stimulation device (firefly) that sits behind the knee and stimulates the body’s natural calf pump.”

Predictably, there exist skeptics to the use of technology in field hockey.  For the USA Field Hockey team, the coaches took longer to convince than the players.  “Athlete’s love technology,” adds Hamilton, “this is their era! If it is new, shiny and unique, then they are in.  If it involves inputting words and qualitatively completing tasks, they are probably out.”  Following this trend, the team has also allowed the players to use social media during training sessions (although they are forbidden from sharing strategic data).  This open-minded approach is already common in some major sports, but not yet others (just ask Pablo Sandoval).  In order to truly reach athletes, sports must embrace the modern era.

In the future, USA Field Hockey plans to stay on the cutting edge of technological innovation. Optimistic about the future of his program’s relationship with technology, Hamilton believes, “there are some excellent advances in wearable technology, such as bio skin sensors, that will go a long way to support our current process.”

Although the team has so far had its struggles during this current competition, the future is bright.  Next season, the players will have banked even more time spent with this technology, getting used to wearing it and learning how to best use the information that it provides.  As for Hamilton, he will continue to push new technology that can help his team’s performance.  “Is it something that can improve training and give us an edge?” asks Hamilton.  “If the answer is yes—it’s in.”

Sport Techie

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